“Everybody’s in danger,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said during a Saturday afternoon press conference about Hurricane Sandy. He warned residents that Sandy could be unlike any storm Connecticut has seen. Connecticut Light and Power representatives are anticipating 300,000 to 600,000 customers to lose power by Tuesday.
While most hurricanes tend to be 12-hour events in the Nutmeg State, Sandy could last for at least 36 hours here and lead to some residents not having power for more than a week. Mr. Malloy said that residents could expect days without major road or train travel.
Hurricane Sandy, by 2 p.m. Saturday, was moving northeast at 11 mph well off the coast of Florida. It is expected to take a turn to the north on Sunday night or early Monday. The storm is so big that Connecticut will start feeling it well before the eye of the storm nears.
Most computer prediction models for the storm show its center hitting New Jersey then heading north up the coast. Connecticut could experience 80 mph wind gusts, which Mr. Malloy noted is higher than what Tropical Storm Irene brought here a little more than a year ago.
Mr. Malloy said to expect the winds to pick up late Sunday and last until midday Tuesday. He said the storm is going to be worse along the coast from Greenwich to East Haven.
The state has 350 National Guardsmen on duty right now and expects to have 400 working by the time the storm arrives.
“Folks, this could be bad. Really bad,” the governor said, adding that the state could experience the worst flooding in 70 years and felled trees could lead to long power outages and limited travel for days.
What could be really bad for the coast is the storm is supposed to last during four high tide periods. Irene lasted during one high tide period.
Malloy said that if you were affected by Irene, the 1991 storm or the 1938 storm, you’ll likely be affected by Sandy.
“I hope this is not as big a deal as everyone is making it out to be,” the governor said. “But I fear it is.”
Bill Quinlan of CL&P said the utility is prepping for a moderate to major impact starting Sunday. He said because the storm is expected to last here for as long as 48 hours, not much will be able to be done during the storm. But after it is over CL&P will have 5,000 people working to restore power.
Right now the utility has 340 linemen available and is requesting 200 more from outside the state. There are currently crews flying in from the West Coast to assist Connecticut.
United Illuminating, which is the utility for many coastal towns in Fairfield and New Haven counties, is expecting 50% to 70% of its customers to lose power.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, Hurricane Sandy was maintaining 75 mph winds with higher gusts — and its strength is not expected to change over the next couple days, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“Hurricane winds extend outward up to 105 miles,” according to the hurricane center. “Tropical storm force winds extend outward 450 miles.”
Additional reporting by David DesRoches.